Thursday, May 22, 2008

Employers advised to keep staff keen

Employers advised to keep staff keen
Rania Abouzeid, THE NATIONAL

Last Updated: May 18. 2008

DUBAI // Employers who want to keep talented staff on board should woo them using the same tactics they would adopt to win repeat business from customers, says a human resources expert.

“Let’s stop thinking of employees as people who have to do what we say because we pay them and think of them as customers,” said David Creelman, the chief executive of Creelman Research, a Toronto-based human resources management company, at the seventh annual Middle East Human Resources Conference yesterday.

“How do you sell the job to them and get them to recommit?”

In a keynote address, Mr Creelman said managers should apply marketing principles to human-resource management.

“Think about marketers,” Mr Creelman said. “How would they get a customer to recommit? People in the sales side don’t just sit there and push products out. Go out there and get engaged with your people. Find out what it is they want.”

Recruiting and retaining skilled employees is particularly challenging in the UAE because of the transient nature of the country’s workforce and its multicultural makeup.

A report released last week by Hill & Knowlton Middle East and YouGov Siraj, said that managers in the UAE were acutely aware of the difficulties of finding the right people for the right jobs; more than two thirds of those surveyed said it was not an easy task to accomplish and, said Mr Creelman, “It’s not enough just to pay someone and hope they’ll recommit”. Before offering incentives, human-resources managers should consider where individual employees fell on what he called the four-point “recommitment scale”.

At the top of the scale were employees who were excited and eager to work hard. Next, those willing to do the work but not excited, followed by bored employees and, finally, those who were clearly dissatisfied.

Once an employee’s position on the scale had been identified, suitable incentives, ranging from higher salary, longer holidays or a more challenging position, could be used to retain their services.

“Different people will be looking for different things,” Mr Creelman said. “HR is not like calculus. There’s no one right answer.”

Mr Creelman said that even simple things, such as paying attention to employees, would affect their desire to remain committed to the company.

“Managers should ask themselves: ‘Who are the people you really want to keep? How much attention do you pay to them? When was the last time you had a conversation with them about their goals?’.” Mr Creelman added that managers should also evaluate their own performance and its effect on their staff.

“Did you hire dead wood or did you create it? Did you hire good people and turn them into dead wood?” Noora al Bedur, the manager of the Employment and Skills Development Center of Tanmia, the national human-resource development and employment authority, said that when it came down to it, a wage increase was usually all it took to keep an employee on the staff.

“The more you pay, the more people will stay,” she said.

Ms Bedur, who has been with Tanmia for seven years, said that, in addition to pay rises, financial incentives such as free parking and health insurance helped to keep employees committed to a company, but in her experience salary accounted for 60 per cent of an employee’s motivation.

Ms Bedur oversees about 25 employees and offers vocational training to 1,600 Emiratis a year, finding jobs for another 2,600.

“The most important thing in Dubai now is the salary,” she said, “And it’s the same for everybody, not just the locals.

“You’re talking about Dubai, one of the most expensive cities to live in. Motivation can get you through two years, but employees will then tell you that they can make more money elsewhere.”

Pauli Liimatainen, the vice president of human resources for Ericsson in the Middle East, said that his company carried out regular employee surveys to ascertain staff concerns. He also kept an eye on what his competitors were offering their staff.

Although his company’s staff turnover was less than five per cent per annum, Mr Liimatainen said that it could not afford to rest on its laurels.

“We are a little bit fortunate because our staff turnover is low,” he said after the keynote speech. “But you can’t ever relax because you have competition for labour. You need to be ahead. “

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Best of K Mahathi - Raga Ratnam Junior Final 5 contestant

Amrita TV through its various programmes strive to find, nurture and develop talent in all fields of creativity and human interest. Raga Ratnam Junior exemplifies this effort by showcasing Carnatic musicians in the 10-15 years young age group. This programme is a first ever in the history of Malayalam televison

Raga Ratnam Junior (RRJ), launched in September of 2007, is a Carnatic music talent hunt for children in the 10-15 age group. RRJ in many ways exemplifies Amrita TV’s commitment to its audiences of producing programs that are enriching, endearing and entertaining. The channel has become a pioneer in the field of reality TV with RRJ as a shining star in its constellation of innovative, unique and creative programmes.

Auditions for the talent hunt took place in Chennai, Bangalore, Thrissur and Trivandrum.

The contest has been staged in multiple rounds of different renditions of Carnatic music; to date the rounds have been Keerthanam, Drishya Sangeetham, Swathi Thirunal, Thillana, Dance, Fusion, Jugalbandhi, Manodharma , Varnam, Pancharatnam, and Meerabhajan. For the final stage a special round called Kacheri is currently in progress with the final 3 contestants.

Today, we look at K. Mahathi, one of the final contestants, who got eliminated recently leaving way for the final 3. In this small but fairly detailed snapshot let us look at his profile and also listen to some of his performances which took her this far.

Age: 15 Yrs
Place: Calicut
Father’s Name: S.Yegneshwara Sastry
School: Kendriya Vidyalaya, Calicut
Standard: X
Training: In Karnatic Music Since past 6 years
Favourite Raga: Bhairavi
Favourite Musician: M.S.Subbalakshmi
Achievements: Won several prizes in the school level competitions

Mahathi - Meera Bhajans

Mahathi - Entharo Mahanubavulu - Pancharatna Krithis - Sri Raagam

Mahathi Kathakalipadam 22-23 Mar 2008

Mahathi Raagamalika 16032008

Mahathi Raagamalika 16032008 Judgement

Mahathi - Sarga Sangeetham 08 March 2008

Mahathi - Sarga Sangeetham - Judgement 08 Mar 2008

Mahathi on Veena 02 Mar 2008

Mahathi - Varnam 01 March 2008

Raga Ratnam Junior - Jugal Bandhi Round - Mahathi

My sincere prayers and best wishes for K Mahathi to achieve more glory in the coming years.

Best of Akhil Krishnan - Raga Ratnam Junior Final 5 contestant

Amrita TV through its various programmes strive to find, nurture and develop talent in all fields of creativity and human interest. Raga Ratnam Junior exemplifies this effort by showcasing Carnatic musicians in the 10-15 years young age group. This programme is a first ever in the history of Malayalam televison

Raga Ratnam Junior (RRJ), launched in September of 2007, is a Carnatic music talent hunt for children in the 10-15 age group. RRJ in many ways exemplifies Amrita TV’s commitment to its audiences of producing programs that are enriching, endearing and entertaining. The channel has become a pioneer in the field of reality TV with RRJ as a shining star in its constellation of innovative, unique and creative programmes.

Auditions for the talent hunt took place in Chennai, Bangalore, Thrissur and Trivandrum.

The contest has been staged in multiple rounds of different renditions of Carnatic music; to date the rounds have been Keerthanam, Drishya Sangeetham, Swathi Thirunal, Thillana, Dance, Fusion, Jugalbandhi, Manodharma , Varnam, Pancharatnam, and Meerabhajan. For the final stage a special round called Kacheri is currently in progress with the final 3 contestants.

Today, we look at Akhil Krishna, one of the final contestants, who got eliminated recently leaving way for the final 3. In this small but fairly detailed snapshot let us look at his profile and also listen to some of his performances which took him this far.

Age: 15 Yrs
Place: Palakkad
Father’s Name: Dr.S.Jayaprakash
School:Bharath Matha Higher Secondary School , Chandra Nagar, Palakkad
Standard: X
Training: In Karnatic Music since past 9 years
Favourite Raga: Varali
Favourite Musician: Madhurai T.N.Seshagopalan
Achievements: Recipient of ‘THAMBURU’ from Dr. K.J.Yesudas in the state level classical music competition held at Thripunithura

Akhil Krishnan - Meera Bhajan

Akhil Krishnan - Kanakana Ruchira - Pancharatnam kritis

Akhil Krishnan Kathakali Padam 22 Mar 2008

Akhil Krishnan Kathakali Padam 22 Mar 2008 Judgement

Akhil Krishnan Raagamalika 15 Mar 2008

Akhil Krishna Raagamalika 15 Mar 2008 Judgement

Akhil Krishnan - Sarga Sangeetham 09 Mar 2008

Akhil Krishnan - Sarga Sangeetham - Judgement 09 March 2008

Akhil Krishnan on Idakka 02 Mar 2008

Akhil Krishnan - Varnam 23 Feb 2008

Akhil Krishnan - Manodharmam round, Amrita TV RRJ

Raga Ratna Junior Jugal Bandhi Round-Akhil Krishnan

My sincere prayers and best wishes for Akhil Krishnan to achieve more glory in the coming years.

Slow drivers 'not being fined'

Slow drivers 'not being fined'
By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter and Alia Al Theeb, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS May 21, 2008

Dubai: Plans to implement a minimum speed limit on Dubai's roads have gone down the drain because of friction between the authorities responsible for implementing the decision, Gulf News has learnt.

Early last year the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) introduced a minimum speed limit of 60 km/h on roads, which have a maximum speed limit of 100km/h and above but this has not yet been implemented.

The RTA also spent a huge amount on advertisements and sign boards warning motorists about the minimum speed limit but motorists driving below the speed limit have never been fined.

Plans for the minimum speed limit triggered debate when introduced by the RTA. A top traffic police official objected saying that it should be 70km/h but the RTA stuck to its guns saying that it had taken the decision after comprehensive studies.

However, the friction continued between the Traffic and Roads Agency at the RTA and the Traffic Police and no measures were taken to implement the decision.


"We announced the decision and also educated motorists through advertisements and sign boards but the police were responsible for implementing this and it never happened," said a senior RTA official.

He said the disagreement between the RTA and the police on the issue regarding the minimum speed limit was not resolved.

A top traffic police official told Gulf News the police were never convinced on the issue. He said that there was a need for better coordination between the RTA and the Traffic Police on this important issue.

An RTA official said the aim was to encourage motorists to maintain an average speed and to avoid driving too slowly on highways.

Slow drivers cannot be caught on automatic speed cameras installed on roads because these only capture speeding motorists. Slow drivers were supposed to be tracked by cameras manned by the police but it has not been done so far.

Dangerous: Risk to road users

A study conducted by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) reveals that introducing a minimum speed limit does not mean that a motorist has to drive at 60 km/h; rather it says a motorist should drive at a speed (above 60km/h) to keep up with the traffic flow within the given minimum and maximum speed limits depending on the traffic situation.

The decision is aimed at motorists who drive too slowly.

The RTA study also says if the minimum speed is set at 30 per cent less than the maximum speed of 120km/h, it would be 84 km/h and it would not be workable because it would be more than the maximum speed of 80km/h fixed for trucks on highways.

The RTA's decision to have a minimum speed limit of 60 km/h on roads calculates at 50 per cent less than the maximum speed on roads with a 120km/h upper limit and some 40 per cent on roads with a maximum speed limit of 100km/h.


Limits on major roads
Country Max Speed Min Speed % of Min spd < Max speed
UK 112 km/h 64 km/h 42%
USA 105 km/h 64 km/h 39%
Germany 130 km/h 60 km/h 54%
Spain 120 km/h 60 km/h 50%
Belgium 120 km/h 70 km/h 40%
Dubai 100 to 120 km/h 60 km/h 40% to 50%

Some of the main roads in Dubai which will have minimum speed limit of 60 km/h

Shaikh Zayed Road

Emirates Road

Al Khail Road

Al Ittihad Road

Dubai Outer Bypass Road

Dubai-Hatta Road

Dubai-Al Ain Road

Garbage collector has dream for son

Garbage collector has dream for son
By Zoe Sinclair (Our staff reporter) KHALEEJ TIMES 21 May 2008

DUBAI — More than 40 years ago, Abdul Salaam Azizurahman fled Myanmar after losing his home and suffering under the government.

He could never have imagined that he would be honoured for his hard work by the leader of his adopted country, the UAE, as happened at the Dubai Government Excellence Programme Awards 2008 this week.

Abdul guesses he is about 70 years old, but the hard worker says he will continue until his legs give way.

As a young man, Abdul gained a Bangladeshi passport and came to Dubai via Pakistan.

Abdul took whatever work came his way as a casual street cleaner, before taking the chance to start his own business trading in small items like cosmetics.

The business fell by the wayside and Abdul took a job with the Dubai Municipality where he stayed for 25 years.

Although he retired once, Abdul supports a family of 10, including his wife, five daughters, one son and two grandchildren.

He returned to the municipality where he has worked for another eight years, from 5am to 12.30pm for Dh900 a month.

Never shy of work, he instead says he is grateful to have met his wife and had his family in Dubai.

"I've been given everything here," Abdul said.

"Allah says to work hard and Allah will give you everything."

He was overcome with surprise when he found himself being honoured by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Shaikh Mohammed kept a humble Abdul Salaam, dressed in his orange uniform and white cap, by his side and often with an arm around Abdul's shoulder, for the remainder of the awards presentation.

"Shaikh Mohammed spoke to me in Urdu," Salaam said.

"He asked me how long I've been working here, what I do.

"I like to work because of Shaikh Mohammed."

His moments of rest are spent with his family and he never expected reward except to see his family happy and living a better life. "My dream is to go on Haj. Being a Muslim I have to go on Haj and that is my dream to go at least once and put myself at the feet of God.

“My son is a coolie and I want for him to have a better job. He is a good driver and I hope he finds a job as a driver."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Exchange students

Exchange students

The IPL has given young players the opportunity to interact with their elders and betters - both from India and overseas

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan May 20, 2008

VRV Singh is among the many young Indian players who have benefited from sharing a dressing room with overseas cricketers in the IPL © AFP

It was the penultimate over of the Delhi Daredevils' innings and Punjab's VRV Singh, as he had done while bowling in the death through the tournament, was trying to get every ball in the blockhole. The first, which ended up a low full-toss, was turned to short fine leg by Virender Sehwag; the second, which Tillakaratne Dilshan tried to pull, was an attempted yorker that turned into a beamer down leg side; and the third, which Dilshan paddled past short fine leg, was another low full-toss.

That was when Mahela Jayawardene, fielding at deep third man, decided to run halfway across the field to have a word with the bowler and captain. As someone who captains Dilshan in the Sri Lankan team, it was obvious Jayawardene saw through his plan. Fine leg was pushed back, three full-ish balls followed, the line was controlled according to how Dilshan moved in the crease, and the remainder of the over produced just three. In a game that was decided by six runs, it was a crucial over.

There are many reasons for Punjab's ascendancy to second spot in the IPL - balanced side, strong bowling attack, good mix of Indian and foreign talent - but tactics have played a big part.

The international players have imparted their ideas and the local players have chipped in during brainstorming sessions. Australians have helped in analysing Australian opponents, and Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have been perfect allies for Yuvraj Singh.

Brett Lee, for the two weeks he was available, was a big brother to the fast bowlers. One young Indian bowler talks of the "highly emotional" atmosphere in the dressing room the day Lee left. "We became so close to him that we felt bad when he said goodbye. The amount we learnt from him in such a short time was unbelievable. He used to treat every practice session as if it was his last."

Sangakkara has missed the last four games but that hasn't stopped him from making a serious contribution. "Uday Kaul [the young replacement wicketkeeper] had never kept to quality fast bowling before," says a team member, "but Sangakkara has ensured he gets adequate training." Even during the early games, Sangakkara made sure Kaul got enough preparation in the nets.

How useful has it been brain-storming with international and local players? "It's interesting to see how the same questions are approached by people with different perspectives," Sangakkara told Cricinfo. "Sometimes you get two or three opinions on the same subject - or more. The debate then starts. It's important how you bring all those into one thought process or one strategy."

What's been really challenging for Sangakkara and Jayawardene is coming up with strategies to counter their fellow Sri Lankans - which they haven't quite managed against the wily Muttiah Muralitharan, who's foxed them both at crucial moments. Sangakkara thinks there are advantages to planning against your own countrymen.

"You find yourself coming up with new ways to combat these players [like Murali]," he says, "but you then realise there are new dimensions to their game that can be exploited to Sri Lanka's benefit later. When you analyse someone's game, you try and find how you can get the better of them, but also find new ways in which they can be lethal. It's nice to sit back and analyse your own team members - gives you an appreciation and new-found respect."

If he gets a direct hit, he analyses what went right. If he misses, he analyses what went wrong. It's the attention to detail that was mind-boggling for us
Aakash Chopra on Ricky Ponting's approach to fielding in the IPL

The Australian way

Like Punjab, all eight franchises are experiencing the benefits of players interacting with their international peers and elders. The prolific Rohit Sharma has attributed part of his success to Adam Gilchrist. "He told me not to get swayed by the results, as my job is only to keep performing." Delhi's young bowlers can't stop raving about Glenn McGrath, and over in Jaipur, Shane Warne has been inspiring a whole generation.

McGrath's influence goes beyond his role as a fast bowler: he asked for videos of Pradeep Sangwan's Ranji Trophy matches to analyse his action and suggest improvements. "McGrath makes it a point to stand at mid-off or mid-on when the youngsters are bowling," says TA Sekhar, cricket operations chief of GMR Holdings, the owner of the Delhi franchise. "Now that itself is a great inspiration for young bowlers like Yo Mahesh and Sangwan. If they bowl a no-ball, he's encouraging them, telling them how to deal with the free-hit ball. If they bowl five good balls, he makes sure they don't get carried away with the sixth."

Halhadar Das, the Orissa wicketkeeper who plays for the Hyderabad franchise, says he never imagined he would even see Gilchrist, let alone learn from him. Sumit Khatri, Rajasthan's chinaman bowler, says he needs to pinch himself every time Warne says "Well bowled." And S Badrinath, who is yet to make the national side despite years of domestic consistency, talks of the lessons learnt from Michael Hussey, who went through a similar phase ("His message was simple," Badrinath says. "Enjoy whatever you are doing and the rest will follow")

Ricky Ponting's dedication to fielding was an eye-opener for everyone in the Kolkata side. "His dedication to fielding is unbelievable," says Aakash Chopra, the former India opener who's currently with the Knight Riders. "If he gets a direct hit, he analyses what went right. If he misses, he analyses what went wrong. It's the attention to detail that was mind-boggling for us."

Australians have dominated the tournament so far but it's been their attitude to practice that has really benefited their teams. McGrath is the first to arrive at nets and the last to leave. Ponting ensured that every batting session was planned properly, and while he may not have scored many runs, his approach was inspiration enough. Warne has managed to throw in tactics even while relaxing in a swimming pool in Goa. ("It was great to sit around the pool and talk about how to construct an over," he said.)

The approach is likely to rub off. "I always wondered how some Australians manage to score despite looking so badly out of form," says one former India player. "Now I realise it's because of the amount they practise. They target one area and go on striking the ball there, irrespective of the length. It's such routines that makes them come out of slumps."

The likes of McGrath and Lee have taken their duties as mentors seriously, and have also set good examples with their dedication to practice © Getty Images

Local flavour

It's not all been one-way traffic. In an era of packed international schedules, the IPL has also allowed Indian superstars to interact with domestic players. "I hadn't seen him earlier but one ball was enough to convince me that he was a talented bowler," said Sachin Tendulkar of Dhaval Kulkarni, the 19-year-old medium-pacer who is the highest wicket-taker for Mumbai after nine games.

Ross Taylor made it a point to talk to Rahul Dravid and Shivnarine Chanderpaul about batting in England, where he was set to join New Zealand for a Test series; and Cameron White said his most satisfying experience in the IPL was discussing legspin with Anil Kumble.

India's domestic cricketers, who could never have imagined sharing the same dressing room with legends like Tendulkar have probably benefited the most. "More than anything else, it's given domestic cricketers a strong belief," says a former India allrounder who is currently with one of the franchises. "There is a general perception that international cricketers are perfect, but you realise that all of them have weaknesses too. It's because they work around these weaknesses that they play at the international level. So domestic cricketers will start to believe they can make it too, as long as they are focused and totally dedicated."

The downside

It hasn't been all good, though. A few foreign players have treated the tournament like a circus that offers them generous pay packets, and some have shown no restraint when it comes to late nights.

"Most of them are used to drinking late and partying hard but the worrying aspect is that some of the young Indian players are emulating this," says an Indian player who is part of one of the franchises. "They must know their limits. Just because they see their heroes partying, it doesn't mean they need to follow that."

Halfway through the tournament, Bangalore's think-tank felt the need to read the riot act to the players, listing the kind of discipline that was expected from them. Murmurs have been heard about the Deccan Chargers being distracted about the number of get-togethers and promotional events being organised. Such talk usually accompanies teams that are not doing well but it's a warning one mustn't ignore: revolutions have their flip side too.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Soorya - India Festival Abu Dhabi - 20th May 2008

Malarvaadi Vinjanolsavam KSA

Malarvaadi Vinjanolsavam KSA

Stay young for long

Stay young for long

By Bharat Thakur Published: May 16, 2008, 23:39 GULF NEWS

Everyone would like to remain young forever. However, the laws of nature dictate that each of us gradually ages.

In today’s times, people are much concerned about how they look as they age.

Hence, we find many people turning to Botox and other cosmetic treatments such as facelifts.

Unfortunately, these invasive treatments have a detrimental effect on the individual’s health.

Before we look into ageing, we must understand what health is.

In layman’s terms, health can be defined as a feeling of wellbeing, with the individual possessing physical and mental competence. As we age, the body’s functioning deteriorates.

Spinal flexibility

Yoga, more than any other therapy in the world, helps those who practise it to “age gracefully”.

The first thing to understand is the importance of spinal flexibility. Yogic wisdom shows us that the flexibility of the spine is directly linked to the ageing process.

As one’s spine gets more rigid, the muscles of the neck also stiffen and the blood supply to the face, scalp and brain is restricted.

This speeds up the wrinkling and hair-greying process. Yoga helps loosen the muscles of the back, spine and neck so that the face and head receive regular nourishment through blood supply.

Apart from the spine, yoga helps in firming up the skin, enhancing our immune system and improving our posture and tone of the muscles. It also helps maintain regular blood pressure levels.

Those who wish to invest in their health from a young age and want to retard the ageing process must give special importance to their lifestyle.

Inverted poses beneficial

You must practise some yogic stretches for the body. Yogic inverted poses are especially beneficial as they redirect blood supply to the head and face.

Apart from slowing down greying of hair and wrinkling, these postures help enhance and maintain mental faculties such as memory and concentration.

To stay young we also need to get adequate sleep. Sleep is the time when the body’s cells rejuvenate, allowing you to cope with daily life.

Nutrition also plays a big role. Important foods that help in ageing well are apples (rich in antioxidants), berries (vitamin C), garlic (detoxfies the liver) and broccoli.

Finally, the best deterrent to ageing is to practise pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. It has positive effects on the physiology as well as the mental make-up.

Meditating will help you deal with ageing and understand that change is the law of nature and you cannot hold on to your youth.

Vipareet karni mudra

* Lie flat on your back.
* Raise your legs to form a 90° angle with the torso, and support your hip with your hands as you raise it off the ground.
* Maintain this posture and close your eyes.
* Hold for as long as is comfortable (not exceeding 30 seconds to one minute).
* Slowly, bring the back down to touch the floor. Lie flat on the back for about 1 minute.


* Lie flat on your back.
* Raise your legs to form a 90° angle with the torso, and support your hip with your hands.
* Now, begin to bend your legs further and try to touch the toes to the floor.
* Maintain this posture for as long as is comfortable and close your eyes.
* Slowly, return to the first step. Lie on your back for about one minute.

Maha bandha

* Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position on the floor, or on a chair. (If you sit on a chair, keep your legs apart).
* Place palms on your knees.l Inhale deeply. Exhale completely.
* First, contract the anal region of the body (this is called mool bandha.).
* Second, contract and pull the stomach inwards (uddiyaan bandha.).
* Third, drop and press the chin to the jugular notch on the chin (jalandhar bandha.).
* Hold for 5-10 seconds.
* Then, slowly release the chin, the stomach and finally the anal locks.
* Breathe in and slowly exhale.
* Repeat this practise. Maha bandha can only be done thrice, as further practise will cause an imbalance in the hormonal level.

Caution: People suffering from high BP should avoid holding their breath in the practise. They may hold their breath in the final step for no more than 3 seconds.


* Lie on your back.
* Keep your legs slightly apart and your hands beside the hips with the palms facing the ceiling.
* Begin to practise deep abdominal breathing.
* Count your breaths from 11 down, till 1.

This is a highly relaxing exercise and can be done everyday before going to sleep.

— Bharat Thakur is the founder of Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga. For questions on yoga, write to For more information, log on to

Monday, May 19, 2008

Expat Cleaned Out

In recognition of Excellence

The fourth Shaikh Fatima bint Mubarak Awards for Excellence 2008 were presented at GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai, under the patronage of Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research. Pictures from the event - Khaleej Times

Boy's bus death results in Abu Dhabi text alert technology

Boy's bus death results in Abu Dhabi text alert technology
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Last updated: May 19, 2008, 13:29

Abu Dhabi: The case of a young boy found dead on a school bus hours after he should have arrived at school has prompted two software companies to develop systems to put parents' minds at rest.

One tracks the location of a bus and the other sends text alerts if their child has not arrived at school.

The companies told Gulf News the death of four-year-old Aatish Shabin last month in Abu Dhabi prompted them to develop security systems, the boy had been accidentally locked inside the bus.

The 'iMessenger,' software developed by an Abu Dhabi-based company will enable schools to send automatic SMS messages if a child does not show up at school.

The system can send pre-set texts to notify parents of an absence or even to send school notifications, said P. H. Abdul Aziz, manager of Invent Systems & Solutions in Abu Dhabi.

It works by using a simple database, and all school staff need to do is enter the parents' details into the system. Then if a pupil is marked absent when the register is taken, the software will find the mobile numbers and send an SMS automatically, he added.

Schools can create any number of message templates said Abdul Aziz. He said the system costs about Dh6,000.

The "school bus locator," a system developed by a Dubai-based company offers to track the location of a school bus, its speed and how it is being driven.

The school administration will have a network connection that will allow parents to log in to the locator's web-based software via the school's website, said Basel Al Salah, CEO of Sekurus International.

The parents can just insert the number of the school bus to get all the details, he said.

"In real-time parents will be able to see the location of the vehicle," he said. "Alternatively, parents can automatically receive an SMS message based on the anticipated arrival of the bus at a pre-determined destination such as home."

"There are many schools in the UAE which have shown an interest in getting our system for their school buses," he added. He did not quote the price of his product.

Schools told Gulf News they would consider installing such a system. "I will propose to the management that they install such a system," said the principal of a prominent Abu Dhabi kindergarten.

Parents are also excited about the new security system. "An SMS alert is better than making calls as parents may be busy at work", said Mohammad Mustafa Saidalavi, whose daughter is a kindergarten pupil.

Sending an SMS to both the father and mother will give them a secure feeling, he added.

Ministry: Inquiry completed

The Ministry of Education has completed its investigations into the death of a child who was locked inside a school bus for three hours.

The legal department of the ministry completed the investigations after receiving a report from Abu Dhabi Educational Zone (ADEZ), a senior official at the ministry told Gulf News.

"We have sent our conclusions to ADEZ which can take further action," said the official at the legal department who requested anonymity.

He declined to disclose the conclusion of the investigation.

Emirati entrepreneurs introduce water-saving car wash

Emirati entrepreneurs introduce water-saving car wash By Emmanuelle Landais, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: May 19, 2008, 00:17

Dubai: It might sound unbelievable, but it is indeed possible to wash your car with just five litres of water.

This new water-saving technology, a mobile, low-pressure cleaning unit, will be at motorists' fingertips within the next few months and was officially unveiled on Sunday at the Franchise Middle East Exhibition in Dubai.

Q2 General Cleaning Services, a new business initiative launched by budding Emirati businessmen promises to leave any vehicle clean and shiny by just spraying a fine mist of water over the bodywork, cleaning and polishing it.

It will not be able to remove any caked on mud or filth but fine dust and dirt will be tackled easily, said Gustavo Ayus, president of Geo Wash, business partner of Q2 and initiator of the device.

"We started using this in Argentina 6 years ago and already it's present in over 30 countries across Europe and the Americas," said Ayus.

The system, a small manoeuvrable buggy, is made up of a 60 litre capacity water tank, hose, brushes, a vacuum cleaner and storage for biodegradable detergents.

Around 35 mobile car wash carts will be available across the country. Hotels and malls are being more heavily targeted to provide this service, said Abdullah Al Shahi, general manager of Q2.

"People are worried about time and sometimes cannot get to the carwash. This will save people a lot of time. Especially local ladies who do not go to the car wash, but they go to malls - the service will be there for them," he said.

"There is a big market here for this service because there are so many cars. New, big cars. We also want to save water. People in the UAE should be aware that they need to be saving water."

Q2 will offer several packages not yet defined but starting from around Dh20. Car interiors and exteriors can be cleaned. "We hope to have 100 mobile car washes eventually," said Al Shehi.

The cleaning process will take around 20 minutes and uses only ecological products without chemicals. Once the wash is over the ground is not flooded with excess water, as there is none.

The average amount of water used per car is 5 to 6 litres. "Some people like to have their car washed everyday. There is a lot of dust and sand here," said Hamad Al Hammadi, deputy general manager of Q2 who himself washes his car 3 times a week.

How the q2 works

- Motorists will find mobile car wash carts in 35 locations initially ranging from hotels, malls, golf courses or supermarkets.

- A fine mist of water is sprayed over the car manually by an attendant.

- The car is cleaned with chemical-free detergents.

- An average of 5 litres of water is used to wash and rinse the car.

- The vacuum cleaner is plugged into the cart so the car can be switched off.

- It only takes 20 minutes to have clean vehicle.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Actor Monilal died in a bike accident at Trivandrum last night

Nrithya 2008 - at Abu Dhabi on Friday, 16 May 2008

Nrithya 2008 was held at the Abu Dhabi Folklore Arts Society auditorium on Friday, 16th May 2008. A few photos from this wonderful programme presented by Guru Gafoor Vadakara:


More photos and video uploads will be done in due course. Keep visiting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008 inauguration

Sruthilayam - programmes for this week

Sruthilayam - programmes for this week

Sruthilayam is an excellent programme presented in Amritha TV from Monday to Friday at 08:30 am IST. The programme presented by Sri Krishna Chandran covers every day one carnatic artist, either vocal or instrumental and presents in detail about the singer, the accompanying artists, details on the keerthanam he/she is going to sing etc. For Carnatic music enthusiasts this is a good venue to learn more about carnatic music and it's different ways and varieties of presentation.

Sri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan

Sri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan

Neyyattinkara Vasudevan (1940-2008) was a leading Carnatic vocalist from Kerala. He belongs to Neyyattinkara , a township south of Thiruvananthapuram.

Vasudevan born in humble surroundings and after finishing his high school studies, his ardent love towards Carnatic music prompted him to join the Swathi Thirunal Music College at Thiruvananthapuram. He passed Ganabhushanam in 1960 and Sangeetha Vidwan in 1962 with colours. His skills were honed in the College by a bunch of reputed musicians under the leadership of the illustrious Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer. Later Vasudevan imbibed the esoteric subtleties from a rigorous training meted out by Ramnad Krishnan in Chennai. Vasudevan's career graph soared upwards with his arrival to Tripunithura to serve as Assistant Professor in RLV College of music there. This hoary royal town has ever provided a fecund soil for any aspiring musician to bloom and Vasudevan was no exception. With his charming disposition and a positive approach to his chosen vocation, he became immensely popular. In 1974, he joined the All India Radio, Trivandrum as 'A Grade' Staff artist in Vocal Music from where he retired in 2000. The AIR honoured him with 'A Top Rank' - the highest rank in Carnatic Classical Music. He has been to American countries and Canada in 1983, 1984 and 1994 respectively for giving public performances and for imparting music to music lovers. He has also given public performances in Abudhabi, Dubai, and Muscat during his tour in 1992.

Sri Vasudevan died on May 13, 2008.

Albums and Recordings

The A.V.M Studios has released a cassette of Swathi Thirunal Krithis sung by Vasudevan. The C.B.S has produced two cassette volumes, sung by him, containing Krithis of different composers. The HMV & Manorama Music have also produced a volume of krithis rendered by him. For the film "Swathi Thirunal", Sri.Vasudevan served as consultant for music aspects. He has also sung in films (Classical Music only) such as "ENIPADIKAL (1968)", "SWATHI THIRUNAL (1987)", "CHITHRAM (1988)", "VACHANAM (1990)" & "MAZHA (2000)".

He has recorded a music album Classical Encounters with his diciple Sreevalsan J Menon

Rendition Style

His strict adherence to tradition and yet innovating within it, unique style of raga elaboration, inimitable style of rendering rakthi ragas, rendering of compositions in appropriate tempo, compact swaraprasthara and above all his capacity to build up a rapport with the accompanying artists as well as his listeners brought him encomiums even in a place like Chennai where the audiences are fastidious by nature. When he secured the prize for the best sub-junior vocalist in 1971, at the Music Academy, roaring reviews had appeared in the leading newspapers. Vasudevan's gift for voice modulations and flourishes are always enviable. He comes out always with a clean diction and his format during a concert is evenly distributed among our Sahajavaggeyakaras. He has taken a lot of pains in popularising, Swathi Thirunal compositions throughout the country and abroad.


Vasudevan is blessed with a number of disciples in South India and U.S.A. Some of the performing musicians who are his disciples include M.G.Sreekumar, Sreevalsan J.Menon, Late Thripunithura Lalitha, Mukhathala Sivaji, Alleppey Sreekumar, Suresh.K.Nair, Vellayani Ashok Kumar, Narayanan Nair etc.

Honours and Awards

Vasudevan has been given the Indian President's Award in the A.I.R. Music competition in 1960. He has been given music concerts regularly in Madras Music Academy ever since 1972. He has been given awards for Best Vocalist in the years 1972, 1978, 1982 and 1988 by the same institution. In 1993 he was given award for Best Musician in Raga rendering.

He has been giving public performances throughout India and abroad. Almost all top ranking violinists and mridangists have accompanied him in his concerts. He has also been featured in the National Programme of Music and Radio Sangeetha Sammelan concerts. The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award was given to him in the year 1982 and the prestigious Sangeetha Nataka Academy Fellowship in 1989. He received the Tulasivanam Award of Kerala in 1992. The title "Asthana Vidwan" was conferred on him in 1984 by the Sri. Venkateswara Temple Trust, Pittsburgh, U.S.A. The Govt. of India's Sangeeth Natak Academy, National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama honoured him with the Academy award for Carnatic Music in 2000. The prestigious Padmasree came in search of him in 2004 and the Swathi Puraskaram in 2006/7 by Kerala State Government.

More news on late Sri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan

He studied at the Swathi Thirunal Music collage and served as a professor of music there. His music is a combination of tradition and innovation. He has contributed in a big way to popularize Swathi compositions both as a teacher and a performer.

Hailing from Neyyattinkara, to the south of Thiruvananthapuram district, he studied in the Swati Tirunal College of Music here. The Carnatic music world realised his immense potential during his initial days of performance itself. Here was a singer in the truly classical mould who was not afraid of innovations. This twin quality made him acceptable to both the traditionalists and the innovators. To the delight of both, he soon took the Carnatic music world by storm. His concerts were eagerly awaited in the music circuits of Kerala. The sheer brilliance of his rendering made him acceptable to even the most exclusive institutions engaged in the promotion of exquisite music and brilliant singers.

He has succeeded in grooming up a group of talented young singers who are expected to do him proud in the coming days.

A jury headed by Sangeetha Nataka Akademi chairman Murali selected Mr. Vasudevan for the Swathipurasakaram award.

Musicians Remesh Narayanan and B. Arundhati and Sree Swathi Tirunal College of Music Principal Rajalakshmi were the members of the jury.

Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer, Ustad Bismilla Khan, D.K. Pattammal, K.V. Narayanswami, T.N. Krishnan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri, Mavelikara R. Prabhakara Varma and Umayalpuram Sivaraman are the past winners of the award.

He was 68 and is survived by wife and two sons, according to his family sources. Contributing in a big way to popularise Swathi compositions, his music is a combination of tradition and innovation. Neyyattinkara Vasudevan was so popular for his charming disposition.

Vasudevan was born in 1940 in humble surroundings at Neyyattinkara near here. After finishing his high school studies, he joined the Swathi Thirunal Music College at Thiruvananthapuram because of his ardent love for Carnatic music.

He was recognised as ''Ganabhushanam'' in 1960 and ''Sangeetha Vidwan'' in 1962. Vasudevan had served as Assistant Professor in RLV College of music at Tripunithura. In 1974, he joined All India Radio (AIR), Thiruvananthapuram as an 'A Grade' artist. He retired in the year 2000.

Vasudevan was honoured with many awards, including the Padmasree in 2004 and the Swathi Puraskaram in 2007.

He was also awarded the Sangeeth Natak Academy for Carnatic Music in 2000 and the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award in 1982. He was also awarded the Sangeetha Nataka Academy Fellowship in 1989.

From The Hindu when he was selected for the Swati Puraskaram

Extraordinary musician and teacher: Neyyattinkara Vasudevan.

Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, who has been selected for the Swati Puraskaram, has renewed, refined and enriched the musical tradition he inherited from the great masters of Carnatic music.

His unlimited generosity as a guru has enhanced the lives of his disciples.

Ask mridangam maestro Umayalpuram Sivaraman about his favourite Carnatic musician from Kerala, and he would reply quickly: “Neyyattinkara Vasudevan.”

The master percussionist once told the audience at a concert in Mumbai: “If you want to be treated to the music of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Ramnad Krishnan and M. D. Ramanathan simultaneously, listen to Neyyattinkara Vasudevan.”

The maestro from Neyyattinkara, near Thiruvananthapuram, has renewed, refined and enriched the musical tradition he inherited from the great masters of Carnatic music. He has spiritedly preserved this tradition through his concerts and lessons to two or three generations of students, becoming its most important icon in post-Independence Kerala.

He likens a brilliant concert to a dynamic painting by an artist who has a definite idea about how to set out the elements, choose a light source and what to include or exclude in the composition.

Early 1990s. Being his disciple, I was with him as he proceeded to present a concert at the Ramaseva Mandali in Bangalore. Sometime ago, he had taught me ‘Sukhiyavaro’ in raga Kanada. When he was freshening up before the concert, I practised the raga with different swara combinations.

He stepped out of the shower, and said: “The sangathis (phrases) are good, but too many of them will make the presentation stale. Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Economy of expression

Economy of expression is the hallmark of his concert. He has proved that brevity in raga delineation, in swara prasthara and neraval is a worthy counterpoint to elaboration.

Nevertheless, each time you listen to him singing a raga, it would sound different. Concert to concert, he would change the manner of elaboration, pushing the boundaries of creativity. Sometimes, the raga presentation is guided by ‘lakshya.’ Here, the singer himself does not know which phrase comes next. There is a flow of spontaneous ideas.

On other occasions, he is guided by lakshana, where the plan is premeditated. In his concerts, there is a fine and majestic balance between the magical and the planned. He builds his musical edifice upon the foundations of brevity and balance.

Musicians of the younger generation have much to imbibe from the manner in which he interacts with fellow-beings. His simplicity, humility and, above all, unconditional love for others are exemplary. His unlimited generosity as a guru has enhanced the lives of his disciples. He would spend long hours teaching, making his disciples listen to stalwarts and discussing music.

If things went above their heads, he would say: “You will grasp this over time.”

He loves all forms of music, though he practises only the Carnatic style. He has made me listen to Pakistani brothers as much as G. N. Balasubramanian or M. D. Ramnathan. While we were travelling once, the background score of the film, ‘Salam Bombay’, composed by L. Subramaniam, was played in the car stereo. He exulted: “This is brilliant.”

He worked as assistant professor in the RLV College of Music, Thripunithura, for nearly a decade before joining All India Radio as an A-grade staff vocalist in 1974. He retired in 2000 and was later ranked A Top, the highest honour given by AIR to classical musicians. He never chased awards, but they came his way. He is a recipient of the Madras Music Academy Award, Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi Award (1982), Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi Fellowship (1989), Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1999-2000) and Padma Sri (2004).

Apt award

The conferment of the Swati Puraskaram on him is apt as he has been one of the greatest ambassadors of the compositions of Swati Tirunals. The core of his music is embedded in the Semmangudi-Ramnad bani. He generally employs a madhyamakala tempo. His style of rendition is deceptively simple. He draws from D. K. Jayaraman’s adherence to kriti structure, M. D. Ramanathan’s brevity of presentation and G. N. Balasubramaniam’s raga elaboration. He pays close attention to diction.

I remember him having demonstrating the pronunciation of ‘Ra’ in ‘Rama Nannu Brova Ra.’ ‘Ra’ in ‘Rama’ is different from ‘Ra’ in Ratish or ‘Ra’ in ‘Rava.’ “Rama’s ‘Ra’ is somewhere in between,” he explained.

His ability to feel the pulse of the audience is much talked-about. Be it a Sangeetha Sabha in Chennai packed with connoisseurs or a cutcheri in a Kerala temple with lay listeners, he relates instantly to the audience and takes them to heights of aesthetic pleasure.

As mridangam maestro Mavelikkara Velukutty Nair says: “Neyyattinkara Vasudevan is an extraordinary musician and teacher – absolutely one of a kind.”

Links of songs sung by Sri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan

Hope this collection of information on late Sri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan was useful to all of you and let us all join together collectively offering our regards and pranams to the departed soul of this musical maestro and offer our condolences to his family members. Music is immortal and he will continue to remain with us forever through his songs.